the psalmiss

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Children Stories  |  House: Booksie Classic
a super heroine for the 7th century bce, becky sings, shoots at, and takes on all comers.

Submitted: May 26, 2016

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Submitted: May 26, 2016



The Psalmiss

Becky hated goats. They were smelly dirty noisy silly things and she didn’t see why she had to look after them.

She hated them.

And she hated her brothers even more, for not having to look after them.

The goats loved Becky.

She was much better than those horrible boys – who the goats thought were smelly dirty noisy things.

The boys also spat and threw stones at them.

Every morning after breakfast her Mum would call out,

Rebekah get the goats out of their paddock and take them up the hill, please”

Oh do I have to?” Becky would say, “Can’t one of the boys take them up today?”

No dear, you’re so much better with them than your brothers. Off you go”.

So Becky would slowly walk down to the paddock, and open the little gate, and out would come the goats, baa-ing and bleating happily.

They would stand in a huddle round Becky, waiting to do whatever she wanted them do, because they really loved her so much, even the kids and the billy goats with little beards.

With her goats round her, Becky slowly walked up the steep path, by the stream, up the hill.

The goats stayed close to Becky. All twelve of them watched her carefully and listened with twenty four pairs of goaty ears for her to start to do her job.

She was a psalmiss and she sang to goats all day.


Nobody knew where she had got her talent from but Becky could make up lovely songs about what she things that she saw. It could be things in the fields and hills near her house, or animals or plants or people.


She was very clever.


As they came to the first grassy field she sat down by her favourite tree – a big strong one with nice cool green leaves, big and strong because it grew by the water, unlike the poor trees away from the stream who having less to drink, looked sad and small.


We shall not, we shall not be moved,

We shall not, we shall not be moved,

Just like a tree that’s standing by the waterside

We shall be not be moved”


Baa”, sang the goats, and, happy to hear the singing moved away from Becky, and started eating the grass.


We shall not, we shall not be moved,

We shall not, we shall not be moved,

Goats and girls together.

We shall not be moved”


And Becky sang and sang. And the goats ate and ate, making milk in their tummies, which Becky’s mum could make into cheese, yoghurt and butter.


Later on that day Becky’s mum made everybody a nice lunch of cheese and meat wrapped in grape tree leaves.


Jacob come here, take these things up to your sister Becky. She’s in the lower field with her goats. Danny can go too”


Jacobs friend Danny was the son of the choirmaster and head of music at the Temple, a big building like a church that was not far away. It was only boys and men that were allowed to make music in those days. Danny often played with Jacob.


Let’s sneak up on her and we can jump out from behind a bush and scare her” said Jacob, giggling.


The naughty little boys crept up the hill towards Becky.


Whilst Becky sometimes seemed to go all dreamy with her songs, she never listened very carefully when she was with her goats.


There were quite a few things in those days who would love a nice juicy goat for their dinner, such as buzzards, lynxes and wolves.


A buzzard was a big strong bird which could hand in the air above the goats hardly moving and then suddenly swoop down and snatch up one of the smaller goats and take them back to it’s nest.


A lynx was a big cat, which could hide in the long grass near the goats and them leap out at them and kill one with a swipe of it’s sharp claws.


Wolves were like big grey dogs who cleverly hunted together often with some of the wolves frightening the goats into running into the other wolves who would bite and eat them.


Becky had grown up with these pests and, whilst she knew how dangerous they were, she wasn’t scared of them.


Becky’s dress had deep pockets sewn into it, and in those pockets she kept a strong leather belt and some hard round stones.


Becky had been shown by one of the old goat herders how to make the belt into a loop, with one of the stones put in the loop, and how to twirl the belt round her head and then, with just a flick of her wrist, launch the stone so quickly you could hardly see it at a target first of all and then, as she got better and better, at it, at anything that seemed to be a danger to her goats.


Quite a few buzzards, lynxes and wolves knew to their great pain, not to creep up on Becky’s flock. Being cracked on the head with a hard stone puts you off, they thought.


Becky’s sharp ears heard the noise in the long grass and her hand went quickly down into her dress pockets for her belt and stones, but little boys make a special sound, and she quickly relaxed.


Not being a spoilsport she let them think they surprised her.


Boo!” shouted the boys as they jumped out.


Argh!” said Becky “You scared me SO much” and she gave them both a cuddle.


As they ate the lunch the boys had brought up the hill, Danny told Becky that he had told his Dad, the choirmaster at the Temple, about Becky’s talent for making up songs and singing them.


Why don’t you pop in sometime and show him what you can do?” asked Danny.


Oh I don’t know”, said Becky, “My songs aren’t very good”


Oh yes they are!” shouted the little boys, together.

If we get the big boys to look after the goats, will you go?” said her brother, Jacob.


We’ll see” said Becky. She was interested in hearing what a proper musician, such as Danny’s dad thought of her songs. She had met Danny’s dad and knew him to be a nice man.


Danny's dad was really happy to hear Becky's songs and said he would put her up for an audition next week.


What's an audition?” Becky asked Danny

Oh it's where someone sings one of her songs in front of some judges and they tell her what they think of it.” said Danny.

Judges?” said Becky, feeling a bit worried, “What judges?”

Oh don't worry about it”, said Danny, “It'll probably be Professor Cohen and his wife Vanessa. He's like a teacher and she used to sing in the pubs in Jerusalem, before she got married. They're lovely”.

We'll see”, thought Becky.

The next week Becky stood before Professor Cohen and Vanessa, a little frightened, but confident she could sing.

Professor Cohen looked up at Becky and said,

Right, now we have Rebecca Jacobson who wants to be a psalmis, I hear you want to sing on of your own songs”.

Yes sir”, said Becky

Could you tell us what it would mean to you if you passed this audition” asked the Professor.

It would mean everything to me, sir”, answered Becky.

Go ahead then”, said the Professor.

Becky sang

When Israel was in Egypt's land, let my people go,

Oppressed so hard they could not stand, let my people go,

Go down Moses, way down in Egypt's land,

Tell old Pharaoh, to let my people go”

After the song, the professor and Vanessa stood up and clapped as loud as they could.

The professor said,

An interesting exercise in modulation between major and minor modes, almost suggestive of a yigdal”

Pardon” said Becky, not having understood a word,

Girlfriend”, said Vanessa, “ YOU NAILED IT!”


Chapter 2


At Music School


Hebron Music School was by the sea. She was the only girl in two hundred pupils. They did classes in three subjects, literacy, music and physical education (PE). Becky was not allowed to do PE with the boys because they had to do it with no clothes on, so she had to do her two special activities on beach and in the sea.


Her special PE subject was archery – shooting arrows with a bow at a target and swimming.


She loved swimming, but found the bow and arrow hard.


She was never by herself but was always with a large Greek servant girl.


Rebekah Jacobson and Persephonie Constantinopulous floated on their backs in the warm sea, two hundred metres from the steep grey cliffs.

The shouts and squeals of the boys came down to them.


Sounds like they’re playing rugby, Percy” said Becky


Yes Becky” said Percy.


Or maybe bulldogs, or tig, or knitting”


Mmm” replied Percy.


You aren’t listening to me at all” cried Becky. She ducked Percy deep under the sea and swam off towards the rocky cliff, as fast as she could.


She knew that Percy, although a big girl and nearly ten years older than Becky, was a fast and strong swimmer and would soon catch her up, and duck her back.


She had an idea why Percy was dreaming, as the older Greek girl caught up with her and firmly, but gently, pushed her head deep under the sea.


She spluttered, when she got back to the air, after her ducking she shouted out




And Percy rewarded her with several more duckings before they got back to the beach.


Ten more arrows whilst we’re drying off, young lady” said Percy.


Even though they were friends in the water Percy was Becky’s tutor and made sure she that she kept up to her schoolwork and bows and arrows were part of her schoolwork.


Becky got 7 inner bulls eyes and 3 outer bulls eyes. An archery target is like a huge round plate made of cloth and straw. The girls had carefully painted circles on their target and these were called bull eyes. Percy hoped she could coach Becky into getting 10 out of 10 inner bulls eyes.



Getting there, girlfriend” said Percy giving her a hug.


Alani Manghud , who everbody called Al, was said to be the greatest horseman in Mongolia, and was in the Isreali army.


Al and his other horsemen and their horses, had come from Jerusalem for training on the beach.


Horses love the beach and gallop happily in the cool shallow sea.


He had seen Percy and Becky practicing archery on the beach as he galloped by and he thought Percy was absolutely stunning, with her good looks and lovely blonde hair, which she wore long.


King Achas was very pleased with Al, and Al had really improved the horse riding skills of the king’s soldiers.


King Achas son Prince Hezekiah, who everyone called Hezzy, was learning how to ride with Al and his Dad’s soldiers.


After Becky and Percy had done Becky’s homework, composing a short sad song on her lyre, a small instrument like a guitar, and had their tea, they strolled over the fields to near the soldiers, and Al’s camp.


Al’s own horse was a beautiful black mare called Bellaphoron, which they shortened to Bella. Al was grooming Bella when the girls walked up to him.


Hello Percy and Becky” he said, giving each girl a kiss on the cheek “How lovely to see you”


Percy blushed slightly, which Becky thought was a bit yucky, but she didn’t say anything.


Becky absolutely loved Bella who was the most wonderful animal she had ever seen.


Go on then Becky,” said Al, laughing, “You can take her out for a little ride”


Becky was delighted to be riding over the fields and jumping the walls, riding bare back on Bella and holding on to her long black mane, which are the long hairs on the back of a horses neck.


Becky rode Bella onto the beach, and dug her heels into the big horse's sides.


The horse and girl became a single galloping thing, kicking up the salty sea, lost in a happy dream of speed.


Becky gently pulled Bella back after she had raced up and down the beach for half an hour, and trotted back up the hill to the field where she had left Percy and Al. She had half expected Percy and Al to be “K-I-S-S-I-N-G” but instead a large black man was arguing with Al with Percy just stood there, a bit embarrassed.


Becky knew the big black man was Staff Sergeant Okamo Ondingo, who everybody called “Staffie”. As she walked Bella back to Al, she listened carefully to what the men were saying.


Listen Staffie” said Al “You've just got to find a way of doing it! I've promised the king that our soldiers will be able to shoot bows and arrows, and ride at the same time”.


Well, sir”, said Staffie, perhaps not as politely as he could,”If you have some magic spell perhaps you could share it with me. I've tried all the ways I know – nice and nasty – but we just can't crack it. They can't even hit the targets – let alone get bull's eyes- even from a slow horse”.


Al rolled his eyes towards the sky and said,


Staffie, if you really can't do it, then I'm sure nobody can”.


Becky quietly said, “I bet I can”


The two big soldiers looked at the little girl, feeding Bella some grass, and both said at once,




I bet I can”


Al was a very nice man in his way, but he wasn't used to confident little girls, and didn't know what to say, so he looked at Percy. Staffie, who had known some good women hunters back near his home in Africa, was still a bit doubtful, so he looked at Percy too.


Percy, with a bit more confidence than she really felt said,


I've been Becky's tutor for two years and she is a remarkable young woman. When is your next practice?”.


Tomorrow”, said Staffie, “At mid-day”.


We'll be there, come on Becky, nearly bedtime, let's go”


On the way home, after she had explained that, yes, she did think Becky was a remarkable young woman, and, no, she wasn't just saying that just to impress her boyfriend, Percy explained the soldiers problem.


Archers – that is people who fire bows and arrows- had always used chariots.

Chariots were two wheeled carts pulled by horses, and didn't wobble as much as the back of a horse.


The great enemy of Israel were the Assyrians, and Percy told Becky that she had heard they been trying to get their archers to shoot from a horse, but with two other riders at the side of the archers horse, controlling his horse, whilst he concentrated on putting on the arrow, pulling back the string, aiming, and then shooting the arrow.


Becky listened quietly and thought about Assyrians. Ignorant people hated Assyrians and called them nasty names, such as “wolves”, probably, thought Becky because they were scared of them.


Becky had only met five Assyrians, and they were soldiers here, but she knew plenty of wolves. Big grey doggy things, who hunted in packs, clever and hungry, they worked as a team to feed their families – they were dangerous, but not really nasty if you understood why they did things.


Percy tucked Becky into bed that night, after nice cuddle.


Love you to the moon and back”, said the big Greek girl as she quietly left Becky's room.


Snug in bed, Becky thought about the archers. First, she thought, they've got to realise that you can control a horse with just your legs.


Secondly they've got to learn a “double glance” that is looking at a target, looking away, and then glancing back, gives you a better way of guessing how fast a moving target is going, so you can “lay off” your shot in front of the target so it hits it when it gets there. She was the best buzzard killer in her village, and slings and stones, can't be that different to arrows.


Shouldn't be too hard to teach clever disciplined soldiers to do this – if they'll listen to me” she thought.

And she tried to fall asleep. But she couldn't. She was going to have big day tomorrow, and she hoped her plans would work.

Hearing Percy say “moon and back”, reminded her of her mother, who used to sy the same thing back at home.

Although Becky was happy, busy, loved and cared for her she still really missed her mummy.

She cried for a bit and then fell asleep.

In her dreams this song came to her

Swing low sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home,

Swing low sweet chariot coming after me, coming for to carry me home.

I looked over Jordan and what did I see,

A band of angels coming after me.

Swing low sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home,

Swing low sweet chariot coming after me, coming for to carry me home.”

I the morning she wrote it down on the notebook at the side of her bed


After morning school Becky and Percy went down to the soldier's field. Al and Staffie had carried a box out for Becky to stand on.

The fifteen soldiers stood round Becky's box. Their big army Arabian mares were behind them, quietly eating the field's grass.


Hello boys” said Becky “Staffie and Al have asked me to talk about shooting arrows, from a moving horse. Now I'm not a soldier, I'm just a shepherdess and psalmiss, so please do tell me if you think my ideas will work or if they won't”.


The soldiers had seen Becky talking to Fatima, a slightly older girl who looked after their horses. Fati was very interested in boys and men and a bit bored with horses, which she loved and looked after very well. Becky, after knowing her brothers, who she loved and looked after, was more interested in the horses.

Right boys – I want you in two teams Sahib, Saif, Yusuf ,Zahid, Altan, Arike Boke, and Arslan can be team one, and Arghun, Arigh, Asa, Amos, Aviram, Efriam, Daniel and Samuel can be team two”.

The soldiers came from three countries – Israel, where they were now, Assyria, where they expected to fight, and Mongolia, where King Achas got soldiers from, because of their skill at horse riding. Becky had put all the Israelii soldiers in one team, all the Assyrian soldiers in the other, and she had split the Mongolians between the teams.

Arslan can be captain of team one, Arghun is captain of team two. Can you two come here please?”

Falya cateesh mul yacka” said Arslan to Arghun, speaking Mongolian.

(If there's anybody reading this that doesn't understand Mongolian this translates to say “Gosh, she's a bossy little cow”)

Pardon me”, said Becky, ”What did you say”

Oh, just that it's a nice day, miss, but Arghun and me speak Mongolian” said Arslan looking a bit embarrassed.

So do I”, said Becky, “ And I am not bossy, not little, and certainly not a cow”.

Sorry miss”, said the big tough Mongolian soldier.

I've chosen you two because I know you both come from Moron and have been champion horsemen at the Deer Stones horse trials there. I know that that tests bare-back riding at speed”.

Horses in those days could either be ridden bare-backed or with a saddle and bridle, which is a metal thing put in the horses mouth, with leather straps called reins attached to it, which the rider pulls to control their horse.

Arghun will you take Nazrat, she's the strong bay, Fati will show you, and ride her bare-backed through the sticks we've banged into the field over there. Zig-zag with your hands on your head”

Argid Beckyhun looked over the field and saw that Becky and had about twenty thin sticks, about half the size of a horse, put into the field. The sticks were about three metres apart in a straight line.

Yes miss, can do”

When you're happy you can do it, and I know you're probably the best horseman here so you won't take long, get all the others in your team to do it”.

Yes miss” said Arghun, delighted to be doing the type of riding he and Arslan had been doing since they were given ponies when they were seven years old, back in their home village of Moron.

Arghun ran over to Fati the stable girl who led him to Nazrat, who was a wonderful bay Arabian mare, lovely brown body with black lower legs and hooves, mane, ears, and tail. Fati and Arghun took off Nazrat's bridle and saddle. Fati pegged him up onto the big mare, by joining her hands together and, when he got his foot in, pushing him up. Arghun and Nazrat galloped off to try out the zigzag course through the sticks.

Becky now turned to Arskan and told him to go over to the big pile of stones, over the other side of the field, with his team.

Becky whistled – loudly with two fingers in her mouth, and Staffie came from the stables riding Al's horse Bella, pulling a chariot. The chariot had a sideways facing archery target, firmly tied to the chariot with rope. Becky and Fati had tied two bendy sticks to one of the chariot wheels so as the chariot rolled along it went “tick tock tick tock”.

Becky assembled Arslan's team round her by the stones.

I will drive the chariot past you and I want you to try and hit the target that we've tied onto the chariot”.

She explained how she used to hit buzzards and how to aim at a moving target.

First I'll drive it slow, then faster and faster. Try not to hit me please” and she jumped onto Bella's back and raced off with the chariot

Becky used the lessons she had learned in her drumming lessons to get the “tick tock of the bendy sticks to get the chariot going at the right speed.

Arslan organised his soldiers with stones and they carefully threw them at the target as it trundled past.

Becky went past them over and over again getting faster. After her twentieth run she stopped and went over.


Getting better Arslan” she said“Yes miss” He said.


Right. Change over to bows and arrows and we'll do it again”, said Becky, and she charged off again and did twenty more drive pasts.


The teams swopped over their training halfway through the afternoon.

Towards teatime Al, the soldiers Captain came over the field with a worried look on his face.


How's it going Becky?” he asked

I'm pleased with them, not quite good enough yet, but getting there” she replied.

That idiot King Achas is coming tomorrow, so they are going to have to show him”

Nobody liked king Achas who was a selfish angry man, and everybody in Israel wanted his son Hezekiah to be king.

Don't worry Al, we'll sort it out, we'll go sweeping through their armies and then their cities” said Becky.

(Then we'll go) sweepin' through the city,

(where my) captain has gone before

(and we're gonna) sit down by the banks of the rivier;

I won't be back,

I won't be back,

I won't be back no more, no more.









































© Copyright 2018 Noj Semloh. All rights reserved.

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